New street lights to help save baby turtles

| 26/02/2019 | 11 Comments
Cayman News Service

CUC staff install turtle-friendly lights

(CNS): Forty special street lights have been purchased by the Department of Environment using cash from the Environmental Protection Fund to help prevent baby turtles hatching on local beaches from going the wrong way. The DoE said the new lights will be installed along roads adjacent to important turtle nesting beaches and where the most disorientation has happened in the past. They will all be fitted before this year’s nesting season in a significant step towards making public roads “turtle-friendly”.

“Roadway and residential lighting that shines onto the beach discourages female turtles from nesting and is a critical threat to hatchling sea turtles,” said DoE Director Gina Ebanks-Petrie.

“When they emerge from their nests at night, hatchlings find the ocean by heading toward the brightest light they can see. On an undeveloped beach, this is the moon and stars reflecting off the ocean’s surface. However, artificial lights can be much brighter and lead the baby turtles toward land, where they face mortal danger from exhaustion, dehydration, predators and vehicles.”

The installation is taking place in partnership with the National Roads Authority (NRA) and the power provider, Caribbean Utilities Company (CUC). One test light has already been installed in West Bay and similar turtle-friendly lights have been used successfully in other jurisdictions to reduce sea turtle hatchling mortality, while safely illuminating both roadways and beachfront properties.

The streetlights are certified by the US Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission and use an amber wavelength that is less likely to attract hatchling turtles away from the sea.

CUC Manager of Environment, Health and Safety Joni Kirkconnell said the firm was pleased to facilitate the project. “The installation of these specially designed light fixtures offers a balance between environmental protection and road safety. We think Cayman’s community will appreciate these lights as much as we do,” she said.

NRA Acting Managing Director Edward Howard was also pleased to be involved.  “Replacement of the lights specified in the trial will lead to an immediate increase in sea turtle hatchling survival and will pave the way for turtle friendly roadway lighting to be rolled out on a broader scale in the future,” he said.

Dwayne Seymour, the minister with responsibility for the environment, said he was grateful to all those involved, as he pointed to similar projects happening in Florida.

Any Cayman Islands properties interested in installing turtle-friendly lights can contact the DoE
Environmental Management Unit for more information at emu.doe@gov.ky.

For general information about Cayman’s sea turtles, turtle nesting season, or how you can help protect endangered turtle species, email doe@gov.ky or call 949-8469.

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Category: Local News

Comments (11)

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  1. Anonymous says:

    what a bright idea!

  2. Anonymous says:

    LED light confuses not just turtles. Circadian rhythm of all living creatures including plants is affected. For eons of time, we have arisen and gone to sleep with the rising and setting of the sun.
    “Our body clocks have adapted to these daily light and dark signals and use these cues to regulate our sleep and energy cycles.
    This process is more than just psychological. Our eyes transmit light to a center in the hypothalamus of the brain called the Suprachiasmatic Nucleus (SCN) or body clock. This is how active hormones like serotonin are produced. And when the eyes perceive darkness, the brain produces the nighttime hormones such as melatonin, adenosine and orexins.” http://www.newscenter.philips.com/pwc_nc/main/standard/resources/corporate/press/2009/winter_blues/Blue_light_white_paper_Europe_Final.pdf

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  3. Anonymous says:

    Now we need to force residential and commercial owners to do the same.

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  4. Anonymous says:

    Good. More food for our hungry families.

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  5. Anonymous says:

    I hope it helps cut down on the light pollution Cayman has. It would be nice not to have to wait for a power outage to see the stars in the night sky.

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  6. Anonymous says:

    Now can we impose laws on home owners who live on beaches?? Make them install turtle friendly lighting or hit them with massive fines!

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    • Anonymous says:

      HUGE house right on a major turtle nesting beach in South Sound with massive bright flood lights. Including the ‘guest house’ right next door. I was told that the Turtle Crew has spoken to them about it in years past but they keep them blazing nonetheless… Thanks!
      Not even going to mention the illegal bonfires lit along that same nesting ground that not too long ago killed about 26+ hatchlings. Okay, I just mentioned it…

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  7. Anonymous says:

    It’s about 20 years and 200,000 dead hatchlings late, but better late than never I guess.

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